THE RAGGED TROUSERED PHILANTHRIOPISTS by Robert Tressell.
Tressell's classic work follows the fortunes of a group of painters and decorators and their families as they struggle to survive against exploitative employers, debt and abject poverty. Where the only safety nets are charity, the workhouse and the grave. George Orwell called it, 'a wonderful book'. and considered it a novel that everyone should read.
The character old Joe Philpot sums up the essence of the story as he contemplates his life while looking down on the town where he was born, before ascending the dangerous 65 feet ladder.
'That's the whole of my life down there. The shop where I was apprenticed. The church where I went to Sunday School as a boy and where I was married as a young man. The graveyard where my missus is and all my loved ones. And do you know what? Today I just feel that maybe it was time I was down there with them.
Almost a relief to be out of all this'.